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Big six energy suppliers are right to lash out at flawed reforms

Britain’s big six energy suppliers are right to lash out over flawed energy market reforms, says Uswitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service. Consumers could end up with higher prices and less choice, while switching could plummet further if Ofgem fails to get its reforms right. As a result, the industry could face a leap backwards in gaining consumer buy-in and trust.

Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at Uswitch.com, says: “There has been consultation after consultation, but little evidence that Ofgem is listening. While we don’t agree with everything that the suppliers are saying, we do share some grave concerns over the direction in which these reforms are heading. We agree that consumers could end up with higher prices, less choice, more confusion and even less reason to trust the industry. This would be a crying shame.

“The energy sector is developing at such a pace and it’s important that suppliers are able to innovate and offer consumers new tariffs and choices that are in keeping with the times. Limiting suppliers to a choice of four tariffs could stifle innovation and lead to Hobson’s choice for consumers. There is also a danger that prices could converge, leaving little difference or incentive for consumers to shop around. This could damage competition, and ultimately lead to higher prices across the board.

“These reforms have to breathe life into the energy market and the key to this is to give consumers a reason to engage, the information they need to engage and the right support and prompts to engage. Instead of creating a confusing and meaningless new comparison metric, Ofgem should ensure that consumers get consistent, simple and straightforward information. Beefing up and re-branding annual statements would be a step in the right direction.

“These reforms are ‘make or break time’ for the industry. This is why it’s so important that Ofgem monitors the impact on consumer engagement and the number of consumers shopping around and switching. People actively choosing better deals and changing suppliers is a good sign of a strong and healthy market – when it comes to judging whether these reforms have worked or not this has to be the measurement of success.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Jo Ganly

Phone: 020 7148 4662

Email: jo.ganly@uswitch.com

Twitter: @UswitchPR

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Uswitch is the UK’s top comparison website for home services switching. Launched in September 2000, we help consumers save money on their gas, electricity, broadband, mobile, TV, and financial services products and get more of what matters to them. Last year we saved consumers over £373 million on their energy bills alone.

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